When one thinks of biking or cycling, the thought of a summer ride on a picturesque countryside can easily bring a smile to the face. But what could have been a pleasurable experience can easily tingle the big toe or that little pinky on your hand. Give it twenty to thirty minutes and you have an entire hand, foot or leg gone numb making you spend the rest of the ride agitated and, in some cases, afraid if the sensation will ever come back. That’s numbness to you—and though quite common deserves equally special attention to ensure that you have the best ride. To do that, here are some preventive tips on numbness after biking.
Let’s begin from the top – your hands. Do you know that many cyclists suffer from nerve compression syndrome of the wrist and handlebar palsy? Yes, what could have been a simple tingling sensation on the fingers and the wrists, when gone unattended, can easily lead to this debilitating ailments. At least a third of cycling overuse injuries have something to do with the hands.
To prevent this, simply do active isolated stretching on both hands before, during and after cycling. Make appropriate adjustments to your bike, too. Handlebars must be comfortable enough for you to reach. This means, your hands must be right on the hoods with the arms perpendicular to the torso, the elbows are slightly bent. Add dampers to your handlebars to help absorb road chatters. Wearing of protective equipment like gloves can also help prevent such injuries from setting in.
At some point in your biking life, the area between your stomach and thigh—the groin—can easily become anesthetized. Groin numbness originates from the perineum, the area just between your sit bones. This particular junction sits the major nerves and arteries serving your body’s lower half. By leaning forward on your bike, the saddle put pressure on the perineum leading to an obstruction of blood flow and sensation. When not attended to, this can result in prostate troubles later on as well as sexual dysfunction
To avoid this, ensure that your saddle tilt is parallel to the ground. Check saddle heigh as well. Make sure it is high enough for the leg to be slightly bent at the bottom when pedaling. Handlebar reach must not also be long enough so as not to transfer weight to the perineum. If still the numbness persists, try using a specially-designed saddle to relieve pressure on the groin area. These saddles have extra-wide channels with cut out near the groin and usually have two pads for each sit bone—and extra gel padding, too!
When cycling, numbness can start at the buttocks dwindling its way down the thighs to the legs. Sometimes, it can start from the toes working its way up to the legs. Usually, this numbing sensation can be attributed to a badly fitted shoe or a poor bike fit. A saddle that’s not fit for your body can also put excess load to the nerves and blood vessels anesthetizing the hips downward.
To prevent this, simply stand on your bike’s pedals and stretch legs every 10 to 15 minutes when on the road to improve blood flow as well as relieve stress being placed on the glutes. Making sure that your saddle is not too high will also prevent overextending of the hamstring with each pedal stroke. Choosing a comfortably gel-padded ergonomic saddle and installing it in such a way that it fits your height will help solve this problem.
Most feet numbness is caused by ill-fitting footwear. However, posture also has a lot to do with the feet. When biking, a lot of pressure is being placed around the lower back and the pelvis area. Foot numbness can sometimes develop from the compressed nerves on these areas.
To prevent numbness of feet from developing into serious injury, consider shopping for the right cycling shoes. Check out different cleats and pedals. You may also want to try wearing orthotics as part of your cycling footwear. Consider choosing the right saddle, too, as this will ensure prevention of nerve compression from the lower back down to the legs and feet.
Yes, you can defy gravity when riding a bike. It is also within your power to prevent overuse injuries when biking or cycling. Numbness is the early sign that certain adjustments are needed. Let these preventive tips for numbness after biking be your guide for a more enjoyable and worry-free ride. If symptoms persist, consult a doctor to check underlying conditions.